Spanish King meets leaders before calling on 1 to form govt

MADRID: King Felipe VI on Monday began a week of meetings with political party leaders before nominating one to try to form a new Spanish government following an inconclusive national election last month.

Traditionally, the monarch invites the election winner to form a government, but he can opt for other leaders if they can deliver a more stable option.

The nominated party leader must win a parliament vote of confidence to take office, but so far no candidate appears capable of garnering enough support. If the issue is not resolved within two months of this first vote, a new election is called.

The king began the rounds with representatives of minor parties and will finish the week with incumbent conservative premier, Mariano Rajoy.

Rajoy's Popular Party won 123 seats, but lacks a majority in the 350-member chamber. The leading opposition Socialists won 90 seats, followed by the far-left Podemos party and its allies with 69, and centrist Ciudadanos with 40. The remaining 28 seats went to six small parties.

Rajoy reiterated his call Monday to other parties that agree on similar Spanish constitutional principles to support a minority government led by him. But the Socialists refuse to back Rajoy while Ciudadanos have only said they will abstain.

Rajoy said he had no plans to meet the Socialist leader over the coming days, signaling he might be prepared to go for new elections in the hope of garnering more seats.

The Socialists, meanwhile, offer to lead a broad alliance of mostly non-conservative parties to take office. That would need Podemos' support, which is not forthcoming.